August 15, Independence Day-An ideal day to check out the hill station near to Chandigarh since we were already in Chandigarh on a visit.
The weather was good. It had rained for two days so the drive up was picturesque. We stopped the car many times just to take in the scenery. On the way we passed many other cars doing the same. Ha! this is like heaven after the hustle bustle of daily life.
View of Chandigarh from half way up Morni Hills, on the Shivalik range
Lush green creeper, the leaves of which are used for making leaf plates(patthal)
" Nature Camp, Forest Department" My husband noticed the board. Shall we check this out? But then we cannot make it to the top which is still 12 km away. Remember we need to go back by evening." A quick decision was made -nature camp it is. After all Forest Dept would have selected the most scenic spot on the hill, I reasoned.
It was a scenic spot. On top of a small hill surrounded by nurseries for trees and freshly planted variety of trees. The thatched roof dining hall looked inviting. The stilted huts reminded us of the tourist huts we had seen in the islands of South Korea.
The carefully tended nursery at nature camp
Scenic view from nature camp. Double click on the photo and notice the blue water tank on the left.
Thatched roof dining hall
Stilted huts for tourists to stay
But the place seemed strangely quiet. No tourists were visible. A few workers appeared. " Madam, we have not started operations. After the place was built we found there is no water here. The water table is so low and the khads (rivulets fed by rain water) below are always bare because of mining." Mining? "Yes, the auction for this year is about to begin."
We decided to take a different route back to Chandigarh. A short cut from the other side of Morni Hills. A road not well developed and full of potholes. Each pothole reminded us of the reality of our country's serious efforts to preserve the pristine. The roadside was dotted with trucks and stone crushers for miles on end. The houses and slum dwellings seemed to have just one focus-cutting the mountain, mining the stones and crushing them.
Down the hill from the other side- (Double click on the photo, a truck is there near the dwelling )
The Shivalik Hills sliced and cut for mining
The alternate route is certainly not inviting!
Stone crushers and trucks dot the landscape on all sides
Close up view of crushed Shivalik
Slums of stone workers -a few yards from Chandigarh city
We entered Chandigarh city, into the up market residential colony, Panchkula. The beauty of Morni Hills seemed a distant dream, even though we had experienced it just an hour ago.